Pablo Picasso, Femme au Béret Mauve, 1937. Estimate: $10,000,000-15,000,000. © 2021 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
NEW YORK, NY.- Bonhams announces the sale in New York of a major Picasso portrait from 1937, one of the artist’s most fruitful years during which he also produced, Guernica and Weeping Woman. Painted in March 1937, Femme au Béret Mauve is a serene depiction of Picasso’s greatest muse Marie-Therese Walter. The work will be offered at Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art sale in New York on Thursday 13 May. The painting has not been on public display since it was bought in 1984 from a New York gallery by the current owners. It has an estimate of $10,000,000-15,000,000.
Bonhams Senior Vice-President and Head of Impressionist, Modern, European and American art in America, Molly Ott Ambler said: “This bright, joyous portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter exudes stability and calm at a time when Picasso’s personal life was in turmoil and all of Europe was living under the shadow of impending war. Family life with Marie-Thérèse and their daughter Maya represented a refuge of serenity and sensuality so wonderfully captured in this work.”
In the early months of 1937, Picasso’s emotional life was in a state of flux. Still married to his estranged wife Olga, who steadfastly refused to give him a divorce, the artist was dividing his time between two other women; Marie-Thérèse Walter – his lover of the previous ten years and mother of his daughter Maya, and his new love, Dora Maar, whom he had met the previous year. Politically, the Spanish Civil War, which had begun in 1936, was a cause of particular anguish to Picasso; the tragedy at Guernica, later memorialised by the painter in the work of the same name, was but weeks away when he executed this portrait.
Femme au Béret Mauve was one of several depictions of Marie-Thérèse painted at Le Tremblay-sur-Mauldre, a village about 50km to the west of Paris where the artist had installed Marie and Maya and where he would visit them at weekends. Writing in the spring edition of Bonhams Magazine the art critic Martin Gayford said: “The pictures done in Le Tremblay-sur-Mauldre continued to be concerned with the subjects Marie-Thérèse had always suggested to him: sensuality, but also domestic peace, love and calm.”
By contrast, Dora Maar who lived close by Picasso’s rue des Grands Augustins studio in Paris, is frequently represented in works of this period as a figure, erratic and emotionally vulnerable – the qualities which had drawn the painter to her in the first place. It is Dora who is depicted in Weeping Woman, a work that acts as an emotional pendant to Femme au Béret Mauve.
Other highlights of the sale include:
Tête de jeune-fille de profil dite "la Rosa" by Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) Pissarro painted five portraits of his Dutch servant Rosa, with this work, perhaps, his most thoughtful and fully realised composition. Portraits in Pissarro's oeuvre are rare and very few have ever come to auction. The work was selected by Paul Durand-Ruel, the greatest of all the early Impressionist gallerists, to show at his exhibition dedicated to Pissarro; it was one of the very few non-landscapes to be chosen. It was bought by a Monsieur Boivin, and when the work finally came for sale in 2013, it had been in the Boivin family for 117 years. Estimate: $1,500,000-2,000,000.
L'atelier de l'artiste au Havre by Raoul Dufy (1877-1953). This vibrant and important work by Raoul Dufy has remained in the same family's private collection through four generations. It was acquired by heiress Helene Hooper Brown, an avid admirer, collector, and patron of Dufy. She was married to the well-connected politician and land developer Lathrop Brown – Franklin Delano Roosevelt was best man at their wedding – and in 1924 the couple bought the Saddle Rock Ranch along the Big Sur, building the sumptuous Waterfall House by the ocean and the modernist Tin House further inland. Estimate: $120,000-180,000.
The works will be on view in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, Hong Kong and New York.